The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) stands ready to respond to the needs in Tonga as more details become known of the extent of the damage caused by last Saturday’s (January 15) undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami.
While communication remains limited due to damage caused to the undersea communication cable, the Tongan government has issued its first official update, describing the situation as an “unprecedented disaster”. To date there are three confirmed fatalities, and a number of injuries have also been reported. Some of the smaller islands have suffered the worst damage, including Mango island, where all the houses have been destroyed. Only two houses remain on Fonoifua island and there has also been extensive damage on Nomuka island.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to all those in Tonga impacted by this event,” said South Pacific Division ADRA regional director Greg Young. “ADRA is monitoring the situation closely. We have established a virtual Emergency Response Team ready to support the Tongan people.”
Flooding has damaged homes, churches and other public infrastructure. Some Adventist Church buildings have been impacted, including the Tonga Mission headquarters, located in the foreshore area of the capital, Nukuʻalofa, on the main island of Tongatapu.
“I’ve received word overnight that the Tonga Mission office, the Mission president’s residence and another house on the site have suffered significant damage,” Mr Young said. “But we are thankful to God that no lives have been lost and the Mission president and his family are safe.”